A few weeks ago, we got a note from reader Laila Folk asking about air conditioning in hybrid cars, specifically the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid. She wrote:
Can you get an answer from Ford Corporation regarding the inclusion of an electric motor driven air compressor for the A/C unit in the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid?
The use of an engine-driven compressor in the 2009 and older models negates any benefit of the electric motor in the hot areas in the southern half of the United States, because the gas engine will always be running with maximum A/C. Here in Florida, you can't live without max A/C in traffic.
Well, Laila, we contacted Ford on your behalf, and you should be pleased to know you're in luck.
As of the 2010 model year, Ford has switched the Escape Hybrid from a belt-driven air conditioning compressor to an electric unit. So, you'll be able to run with AC on and the gasoline engine off. (The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, by the way, uses a similar electric AC unit.)
We just spent four days with a 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid, and we can confirm that for the earlier model years of Escape Hybrid (2005-2009), the engine does in fact switch on whenever the air conditioning is on.
But that's been fixed for the 2010s, which should now be arriving at local Ford dealers.
Ford added a few more features to the 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid as well, including a 911 Assist function in the optional Sync system, which will call local emergency responders through a linked mobile phone if the airbags deploy in your car. (It can be added to some earlier Sync-equipped models as a software upgrade.)
Note for the technically inclined: Ford's 2.5-liter four, as fitted to the Escape Hybrid, still isn't completely beltless (unlike the 1.8-liter engine in the 2010 Toyota Prius). The one remaining belt drives the water pump, which of course isn't needed when the engine switches off.
Bottom Line: Go forth and buy a Ford Escape Hybrid, but make double sure (triple sure?) that you're getting the 2010 model with the electric AC.
The Ford Escape Hybrid is manufactured alongside its Mercury Mariner Hybrid sibling at Ford’s Kansas City plant
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